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First and 10: The rest of the story

By Pat McManamon

First and 10 started here this week … what follows is the rest of the story…

11) Joe Haden can’t have many games like he had against Baltimore if he wants to be among the elite of NFL cornerbacks. Haden is not elite, and that game showed he is far from it. The Ravens, according to Pro Football Focus, threw at Haden eight times and completed five — for 88 yards and a touchdown. A game-winning touchdown. What was more eyebrow-raising was that the Ravens showed no shyness about going after Haden. They simply threw right at him. That does not scream elite, but it does scream that if there are more games like this that maybe I’ve overstated his importance to the defense.

12) The Sporting News did a poll of players about teams and organizations, and the results called the Browns the worst organization in football. The poll included votes from 103 players on 27 teams, which isn’t exactly a huge sample size (where’s Nate Silver when you need him?). Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts, a Cleveland native, included this comment: “They don’t give anybody a chance. When I was growing up, they were getting rid of quarterbacks every two years. Coaches, too. You can’t do that. Most of the time when I was growing up, after the Browns came back in 1999, they were a sorry team. Under old management, they never gave those guys a chance. They let the fans dictate too much what was going on. I don’t know how it is now since I became a Jaguar (in 2011), but when I followed them, one bad game and they’d want to bench the quarterback. Cleveland is my city and my heart. It has the most loyal fans and a very rich history. I hope they can get back to winning.” The most interesting part of that statement: That there is a perception among players that the team responds to the laments of the fans. That is not good when trying to attract free agents.

13) Time for a look at the fourth down throw by Brandon Weeden, that much-questioned call on fourth-and-2 from the 28. The Browns lined up pretty clearly intending to throw — with one back, two guys wide left and one wide to the right. The only run would have been that lame inside handoff that works in Cleveland only slightly better than the screen pass:

At the snap Weeden did what he did against Indianapolis, look at the one guy he has zeroed in on. This would be Greg Little, matched up against Baltimore’s nickel back. He decided pre-snap that’s where he was going, and after taking the snap that’s where he’s looking:

Weeden is ready to throw pretty quickly. He’s already taken his step forward, and at this point Marcus Pollard of Baltimore sees it and has started leaning toward Little. This would eventually blow up the play:

Little looks open as Weeden is about to throw. At this point, there’s nobody else open. So he may as well try this pass, except Pollard saw the same thing:

Pollard at this point has undercut the route, and Weeden tries to adjust in mid-throw. It didn’t work. Pollard has taken away his throw, and even if he hadn’t, there’s no one else to throw to:

The ball sails well high. Weeden basically threw it to Yao Ming. But he did it because Pollard forced the throw.

And Baltimore is happy and the Browns are not:

The solution? For the second time on a key fourth down, Weeden locked on a receiver and missed him — Josh Cooper in Indianapolis, Little here. The routes were not complex, and there weren’t a ton of options. Perhaps Weeden could wait a little longer to see how the play develops. It would be nice to think he could have looked off Pollard and thrown to someone else. He had time. But nobody was open. The solution: Perhaps in this case Shurmur was right … Weeden needed a better play,

14) Pro Football Focus also reported that Terrell Suggs rushed the passer 29 times, hit Weeden once and hurried him once. That happened when he lined up on the left side opposite Mitchell Schwartz (who is playing some pretty good right tackle, by the by). On the 12 plays that Suggs lined up on the right “he got nothing,” wrote ProFootballFocus.com. Joe Thomas anyone?

15) It’s about the Ravens, yes, but if you don’t enjoy watching Ed Reed play the game, then you don’t enjoy the game.

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